I have written previously about my adventures in reading with a baby (it’s possible! I’ve done it!). This list is sort of the opposite of that. I have put together a few of the things I enjoyed doing in the months leading up to becoming a parent. They include a few little reading projects and some other fun activities to consider while you’re awaiting this life-changing event. Some of them were special to me simply because I knew that my time with them would be more limited in the future, others were a nice way to look forward into the future with my baby. Plus, you don’t need a ton of supplies or to go very far to do them.
I haven’t included anything about reading pregnancy or baby books in this list. If you’re reading this list, you may already know what to expect when you’re expecting. (But here’s where you can find out more about titles related to pregnancy.) I feel the need to reiterate that I am not saying that your reading days are numbered, no matter what you’ve been told. Your relationship with books may change for a little while, though, so take this opportunity to really enjoy the time you have.
Read a Long Book in a Single Sitting
Shortly before I became pregnant, I picked up Insomnia by Stephen King and took advantage of a three-day weekend. The novel itself was a bit of a blur but the not having to get up or go anywhere felt amazing. Full disclosure: this was pre-pandemic and I had no idea how normal not going anywhere would soon feel.
Participate in a Readathon
I don’t think my days of readathons are behind me but I know that it is currently more difficult to ignore my responsibilities for a whole weekend. I’ve done both Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and the 24 in 48 Readathon, and they’re both a really good time. There’s a fun social media aspect that I’ve never quite gotten the hang of, but it’s nice to think of all of the other readers out there doing the same thing that you are (and maybe seeing photos of their pets or snacks along with their stacks and stacks of books).
Read That Long Biography or Other Difficult Book You’ve Been Saving
I read The Brontës over a couple of weeks because I knew that I would not have the time or the energy for that much Brontë, or that much tuberculosis, once the baby came. I kept a rigorous reading schedule and treated it like a class I took every day. I had time for a lot more than I thought I did after the baby came, but this would not have been one of those things — and not because it wasn’t worth it, but because my brain was working differently in the early weeks.
Build a Library for Your New Addition
This goes without saying but start collecting those children’s books! I pulled out all of my old favorites but realized quickly that I was strangely shy to read to my newborn (plus we’d get through about a page and a half before he was over it), and I was grateful for board books with more pictures and fewer words. Frankly, Sandra Boynton became really important to me very quickly. We now read books that are slightly more complicated than But Not the Hippopotamus, but it helped me to start simple. You just need to find what works for you, and to do that you need options. Consider this your permission to get all of the board books.
Find Some Awesome Book Art for the Nursery
The whole thing doesn’t have to be book-themed but check out some of these decorations from Etsy. For me, it was a little easier to conceptualize that a baby was coming to live with me once the baby had a space. To give you some sense of my priorities, I had a bunch of fun art and a color-coded bookshelf, but the room was not actually painted until months after the baby was born.
Read Your TBR
I tried to read most of the physical books I’d collected, because I had a feeling that reading would mostly take place on my Kindle or phone for the foreseeable future. (Also, even if you’re amazing at juggling that book and baby, there’s really something to be said for a backlight sometimes!) This also made me feel better about picking out a few things for the “after time.”
Write a Letter to Your Baby
Tell them anything you want. Tell them how you came up with their name, especially if there’s a literary connection. You can buy something like Letters To My Baby, which provides prompts and has all of the envelopes ready for you, or you can go free-form. There’s also the option of a full-on baby book. I like this one because it’s very free-form, though the jury is out on whether I can actually keep it up for the next seventeen years.
Get to Know Your Local Library
Between apps like Libby and programming for kids, your local library is a resource that cannot be beat. A lot of libraries are still doing virtual story times and take-home crafts for older kids. (My secret shame is that my kid doesn’t have a library card just yet. We’re getting there.)
I think my patio furniture missed me last summer. We went on a lot of walks and even made it to the beach, but those long outdoor reading sessions were missing this year. Do a little outdoor reading for me. You’ll have plenty of time with your couch later.
And One Last Thing
Feel free to ignore any of this that doesn’t feel right for you. My kid doesn’t have a book-themed nursery. I have friends who read to their newborns from whatever they’ happened to be reading or have started with something like The Hobbit. There are some people who jump right back into a PhD thesis in the weeks after giving birth. Even if that’s not you (and it was not me), I am learning that everything is a stage and that everything comes back with time so that, let me repeat myself one more time, you aren’t “missing out” forever. And what you gain is pretty awesome.